- "Taliban takes control of 18 towns in Kandahar, elder says"
International Herald Tribune (June 17, 2008)
- "ISLAMABAD: Afghan families continued to flee the district of Argandab in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters and NATO and Afghan forces prepared to battle over the strategic region Tuesday...."
- "...'Still the Taliban are not in Argandab,' said the provincial governor, Asadullah Khaled. 'They are in some places. It does not mean they took it all,' he said in English in telephone call from Kandahar.
- " 'They will have some fighting, but they are not that strong,' he said of the Taliban. Although the governor has in the past raised the alarm when Taliban forces have appeared close to the city, and though he has often called for tougher action from NATO forces in his region, this time he said the threat was not great. 'I am not worried.'
- "The United States military said a patrol of Afghan police and American and allied forces conducted a five-hour patrol from daybreak on the west side of the Argandab River valley, where there have been reports of Taliban fighters. The patrol encountered no resistance, said Lieutenant Colonel Rumi Nielson-Green, a United States military spokeswoman at Bagram air base north of Kabul...."
- "Taliban prep for battle outside Kandahar"
CNN (July 17, 2008)
- "ARGHANDAB, Afghanistan -- Taliban militants destroyed bridges and planted mines in several villages they control outside southern Afghanistan's largest city in apparent preparation for battle, residents and officials said Tuesday.
- "More than 700 families -- meaning perhaps 4,000 people or more -- had fled the Arghandab district 10 miles northwest of Kandahar city, said Sardar Mohammad, a police officer manning a checkpoint on the east side of the Arghandab River. Police on Tuesday stopped and searched every person passing on the road...."
- "Taliban fighters take over slew of Afghan villages in Kandahar Province"
International Herald Tribune (June 16, 2008)
- "ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of Taliban fighters swarmed into a strategically important district just outside Kandahar, the biggest city in southern Afghanistan, in an apparent push for control just days after 400 Taliban members escaped in a spectacular breakout from the Kandahar prison, officials said Monday...."
- "...The move by the Taliban on Argandab, a district that is critical to the security of the city of Kandahar and therefore to the entire south of Afghanistan, comes amid an increased sense of crisis in Afghanistan. Kandahar is still reeling from a brazen attack by the Taliban on the Kandahar prison, in which they released some 1,200 prisoners, 400 of whom were members of the Taliban, including some district commanders...."
So, whether he doesn't think there is great cause for concern or not, I wouldn't expect the provincial governor to go into a paroxysm of hand-wringing.
I think the lack of resistance found by that five-hour patrol is a bit more noteworthy. Either the Taliban isn't quite as strong as feared, or they've got the sense to hold their fire until they're in a better position.
I've wondered if the Taliban is waiting to move until it's closer to the American presidential elections. They may either think that America will be distracted by a change in administrations, or hope that the next American president will be less likely to inconvenience them.